OPINION: PUB PEN 4-15
GAINESVILLE, Apr 16, 2012 (Gainesville Daily Register - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Earth Day is next Sunday. That's not a big deal for most of us but it probably should be. After all, we only have one Earth.
I received an email from the Earth Day Network asking what we were going to do about Earth Day. Good question. Their email went on to say they were looking to count a billion acts of green this year. That's a lot of green to count, I thought.
Turns out that the Billion Acts of Green Initiative was announced last September at the Clinton Global Initiative's annual meeting in New York. They pledged to address global environmental challenges. In the absence of national and international leadership on climate change policy, local governments businesses and individuals must take charge of renewable energy, says Earth Day Network president Kathleen Rogers. She'd put the whole thing back on us, as private citizens, business leaders and local governments.
I don't know exactly how I feel about that. After all, isn't that what deficit spending is all about... to fix all the stuff we can't afford to fix?
The more I thought it, the more I liked the idea of making the Earth a personal priority. That makes more sense than just stressing out about Obama and the state of International disorder. This "Billion Acts" idea reminds me of George H.W. Bush's "Thousand Points of Light" which was an attempt to replace the government-supported social safety net with the work of volunteers coordinated by non-profit charitable institutions. But unlike Bush Sr.'s rhetoric, this program leverages the widespread use of the Internet to reach out to individuals at every level of society to promote individual action.
A billion acts seems to be a pretty big chunk to chew. Yet, organizers claim they have already hit the halfway point. They feel the power of the people is stronger and more organized than government ever thought about. The idea was launched to inspire individuals all around the world to make a commitment to reduce their impact on the planet. Earth day 2012's theme, Mobilize earth, may very well do just that. I hope so.
If you intend to make a commitment, you must have a plan. What in the world can we do?
One idea is to plant a garden at home or at school. Join in with a co-op garden group or get involved in a community garden. Change all the light bulbs in your home to compact fluorescents. You could simply eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in your home and garden. You could do something as simple as making sure all the recyclables in your home and office are recycled. Maybe you'll decide to organize an Earth Day event with your friends or at your church.
You could plant a tree. Tree planting is a great thing to do as a yearly event. Plant a tree with your kids or in remembrance of a loved one. Each year as you mark the tree's progress you'll relive some great memories. Last year I decided that North Texas needs more trees so I planted one. Just last weekend I helped my son and his wife plant a tree at their home. The tree planting has become a part of Gainesville's Medal of Honor Week tradition and I applaud them for that.
Forty-two years ago, April 22 was set aside to remember the importance of a clean environment. Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, city slickers and farmers, tycoons and labor leaders. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts The important thing is to remember that we're all in this together. The grassroots rumble that's growing to protect our planet from further devastation is encouraging. Please join in.
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